Dow Constantine

Dow Constantine
8th King County Executive
Assumed office
November 24, 2009
Preceded by Kurt Triplett
Member of the Metropolitan King County Council from the 8th District
In office
January 7, 2002  November 24, 2009
Preceded by Greg Nickels
Succeeded by Jan Drago
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 34th district
In office
November 26, 2000  January 7, 2002
Preceded by Michael J. Heavey
Succeeded by Erik Poulsen
Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 34th district
In office
January 13, 1997  November 26, 2000
Preceded by Georgette Valle
Succeeded by Joe McDermott
Personal details
Born James Dow Constantine
(1961-11-15) November 15, 1961
Seattle, Washington, United States
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Shirley Carlson
Children Sabrina Kyoko Adele Constantine
Residence North Admiral, Seattle, Washington
Alma mater University of Washington
Occupation King County Executive
Profession Attorney, Urban Planner, Politician

James Dow Constantine (born November 15, 1961), better known as Dow Constantine, is an American politician in the state of Washington where he currently serves as King County Executive, an office he has held since November 2009. He was previously in the state legislature and on the King County Council, chairing the latter before his election as Executive. Constantine is a self-identified Democrat, although the Executive's office is officially nonpartisan.

Early life and education

James Dow Constantine was born and raised in West Seattle, Washington, the son of John and Lois Constantine. In 1980, he graduated from West Seattle High School, where he was student body president and an Eagle Scout. He attended the University of Washington (UW), receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science and graduated as a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity.[1] Constantine also served an internship with Washington's 34th Legislative District representative Phil Talmadge.[2] While attending law school, Constantine worked as a disk jockey for the college radio station KCMU.[3] In 1989, Constantine earned a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.[2] Constantine later returned to obtain a Master's degree in urban planning from UW in 1992.[2]


Constantine opened a private law practice in 1990.[4] He served as chair of the 34th District Democrats organization and worked as an aide for King County Council member Greg Nickels. Constantine was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1996.[5] He won re-election in 1998.[6] In 2001, he became a Washington State Senator. He left the state senate in 2002 after being appointed to the King County Council to replace Nickels, who had been elected Seattle mayor.[5] Constantine was a King County Council member from 2002 to 2009, representing the eighth district, which includes West Seattle, parts of Southeast Seattle, North Highline, Burien, Vashon Island, Maury Island, Normandy Park, and parts of both SeaTac and Tukwila.[6] In 2009, he served as council Chair.

King County executive election

Constantine announced his candidacy for King County Executive on February 16, 2009 to replace Ron Sims who was appointed the United States Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.[7] In the primary election, Constantine received 22% of the votes to advance to a run off against candidate Susan Hutchison, who received 37%.[8] Described as "perhaps the most contentious race on the November [2009] ballot" by Seattle NPR outlet KPLU,[9] the campaign has been characterized by negative campaigning, including "mudslinging" ads paid for by the candidates' supporters.[10][11][12]

Constantine received press attention for stressing the conservative affiliations of Hutchison, pointing to her involvement with the Discovery Institute and contributions to Republican candidates such as President Bush in 2004 and Mike Huckabee in 2008.[13][14][15] Hutchison downplayed any perceived partisanship and criticized Constantine as a political insider with close ties to labor unions.[4]

In October 2009, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) investigated allegations that the Constantine's campaign illegally coordinated with an independent campaign on anti-Hutchison ads.[16] The PDC concluded there was no coordination and dismissed the complaint.[17] The PDC also investigated complaints regarding Hutchison's campaign on allegations that campaign contributions exceeded single election limits and that expenditures by the campaign were not properly documented.[18] The PDC imposed a $100 fine against Hutchison for exceeding campaign limits and dismissed the failure-to-report allegations.[19]

Constantine acknowledges crowd applause after taking the oath of office as King County Executive.

Constantine was endorsed by Governor Christine Gregoire,[20] Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, US Senators Patty Murray[21] and Maria Cantwell,[21] Washington State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown as well as state Senators Ed Murray, Ken Jacobsen, Joe McDermott, and Karen Keiser.[22] Organizations that endorsed Constantine included NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the Sierra Club, the Cascade Bicycle Club, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the UFCW.

On election night, November 3, the initial batch of election results had Constantine winning the election over Hutchison, at that time receiving 57% of the votes to her 43%.[23] He was expected to replace interim Executive Kurt Triplett on November 24 following the certification of election results by the King County Elections' Canvassing Board.[24] Constantine was ultimately declared the winner, and was inaugurated November 24, 2009.

Personal life

Constantine married his long-time partner Shirley Carlson in a private ceremony on October 31, 2013.[25] The couple met while working at the University of Washington radio station.[13] They live in North Admiral, Seattle.[26]


  1. "Dow Constantine*, D - King County Council Dist. 8", Profile, Seattle Times, September 2, 2003
  2. 1 2 3 Yuki Nakajima, "Constantine vs. Phillips", Northwest Asian Weekly, Community News, News, Vol 28 No 31 | 7/25 - 7/31, July 23, 2009
  3. Chris Grygeil, "Constantine: County government broken, needs fixing", Seattle Post-Intellingencer, April 27, 2009
  4. 1 2 Laura Onstot, "Dow, But Not Out", Seattle Weekly, September 22, 2009
  5. 1 2 Keith Ervin, "Constantine trimmed budgets, yet some blame him for rise in spending", Seattle Times, October 18, 2009
  6. 1 2
  7. "Constantine to run for King County executive". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. February 15, 2009.
  8. "Hutchison, Constantine Advance In King Co. Exec Race". August 18, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  9. Davis, Gary (October 23, 2009). "Frying Pan Awaits New King County Executive". National Public Radio KPLU 88.5. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  10. "Mudslinging Abounds In King Co Exec Race". August 18, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2009. (video)
  11. Johnson, Bryan (October 20, 2009). "Mud-slinging starts in King County Exec race". KOMO 4 News. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  12. Sullivan, Chris (October 21, 2009). "Attacks continue in King County executive race". Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  13. 1 2 Keith Ervin, "Constantine runs as 'most progressive' of county-exec hopefuls", Seattle Times, July 27, 2009
  14. Gene Johnson, "Ex-Seattle TV anchor stresses 'nonpartisan' label", Seattle Times, August 15, 2009
  15. Laura Onstot, "Constantine Challenges Hutchison to a Duel", Seattle Weekly, June 10, 2009
  16. Ervin, Keith (October 7, 2009). "State to investigate Constantine campaign". Seattle Time. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  17. Dow Constantine, Public Disclosure Commission, March 26, 2010, 8 pp
  18. Mapes, Lynda V. (October 21, 2009). "PDC will investigate campaign finance complaint against Hutchison". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  19. Susan Hutchison, Public Disclosure Commission, April 6, 2010, 6pp
  20. Laura Onstot, "Washington State Dems Are Endorsing Dow, But Where Are the Locals?", Seattle Weekly, August 31, 2009
  21. 1 2 Keith Ervin, "Executive candidates Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison will debate", Seattle Times, August 27, 2009
  22. "Endorsements", Friends of Dow Constantine, Dow Constantine campaign website, Retrieved October 13, 2009
  23. Young, Bob (November 3, 2009). "Constantine defeats Hutchison for King County exec". Seattle Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  24. Ervin, Keith (November 5, 2009). "County executive-elect Constantine names team". Seattle Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  25. Emily Heffter, "County Executive Dow Constantine marries in private ceremony", Seattle Times, November 14, 2013
  26. Peyton Whitley, "Constantine ready for County Council", The Seattle Times, December 3, 2001


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